How are dental implants different than bridges when replacing teeth?

By: Our Team


How are dental implants different than dental bridges?

First, it's necessary to understand what a dental implant is:

A dental implant is a small metal screw that is surgically placed into the jawbone to replace a missing tooth root. Once the implant is placed, a dental crown or bridge can be attached to it, which serves as a replacement tooth.

Dental implants are typically made of titanium, a biocompatible material that allows the implant to fuse with the surrounding bone tissue in a process called osseointegration. This creates a strong and durable anchor for the replacement tooth or teeth.

Dental implants are considered to be a highly effective and long-lasting solution for replacing missing teeth, and they offer several advantages over other tooth replacement options, such as dentures or bridges. They look and feel like natural teeth, and they are designed to last for many years with proper care and maintenance.

Can implants be used to replace more than one tooth?

Yes, dental implants can be used to replace more than one tooth. In fact, dental implants can be used to support a dental bridge or denture to replace several missing teeth.

In cases where multiple teeth are missing, an implant-supported bridge or denture can be used to fill the gap. The number of implants required will depend on the number of teeth being replaced and the condition of the patient's jawbone.

For example, if three adjacent teeth are missing, two dental implants may be placed to support a three-unit bridge that fills the gap. If a patient is missing all of their teeth in the upper or lower jaw, a full arch denture can be supported by as few as four dental implants in a procedure called All-on-4.

Using dental implants to replace multiple teeth provides several benefits over traditional tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures, including improved stability and function, increased comfort, and enhanced aesthetics.

Do implants feel like teeth?

Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Because dental implants are anchored into the jawbone, they provide a stable and secure base for the replacement tooth or teeth. This allows for normal biting and chewing function, which can be difficult with other tooth replacement options like dentures.

In addition, dental implants are custom-made to match the size, shape, and color of the surrounding teeth, making them virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. The crown or bridge that is attached to the implant is typically made of dental porcelain or ceramic, which closely mimics the translucency and texture of natural tooth enamel.

While some patients may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity in the first few days after the implant surgery, most patients report that their implants feel like natural teeth after the healing process is complete. With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last for many years and provide a durable and long-lasting solution for missing teeth.

An implant replacing a single

An implant and implant-crown are frequently the best way to replace a tooth. And it's almost as good as a natural tooth. In some ways it's better. Imp

Are implants better than bridges?

Whether dental implants or bridges are better depends on the individual patient's situation and needs. There are distinct advantages of each treatment - since each tooth replacement scenario is different, the best option depends on the situation as well as the patient’s needs. 

Dental bridges are a traditional method for replacing missing teeth, which involves placing a prosthetic tooth or teeth between two adjacent teeth and anchoring it in place with dental crowns. Bridges are a relatively simple and affordable solution for replacing missing teeth, but they require the trimming some healthy tooth structure from the adjacent teeth to support the crowns.

Dental implants, on the other hand, are designed to replace the entire tooth, including the root, and are anchored directly into the jawbone. This provides a stable and secure foundation for the replacement tooth or teeth and helps to prevent bone loss in the jaw. Implants are also typically more durable and longer-lasting than bridges, with a success rate of around 95%.

While dental implants can be more expensive than bridges over the short term, they offer several advantages over traditional tooth replacement options, including:       

  • They don’t decay  
  • Improved stability and function  
  • Preservation of healthy adjacent teeth  
  • Prevention of bone loss in the jaw

Ultimately, the decision between dental implants and bridges will depend on factors such as the patient's oral health, budget, and treatment goals. Dr Oh and Dr Estafan can help you determine the best tooth replacement option for your individual needs.

Implant versus bridge

Understanding the difference between an implant and a bridge when replacing a tooth or teeth.

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a type of dental restoration that is used to replace one or more missing teeth. It consists of a prosthetic tooth or teeth that are attached to dental crowns on either side, which are placed on the natural teeth adjacent to the gap.

Dental bridges can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, ceramic, and metal alloys. The type of material used will depend on the location of the missing teeth, the patient's oral health, and their personal preferences.

The procedure for placing a dental bridge typically involves preparing the adjacent teeth by removing a small amount of tooth structure to make room for the dental crowns. Once the teeth are prepared, impressions are taken to create a model of the patient's teeth, which is used to fabricate the bridge in a dental laboratory. The bridge is then cemented onto the adjacent teeth, providing a stable and durable replacement for the missing teeth.

Dental bridges are a common and effective solution for replacing missing teeth, but they do require some maintenance and care to ensure their longevity. Patients should brush and floss their teeth regularly, and visit Dr Oh or Dr Estafan for regular checkups to ensure that their bridge is functioning properly and to prevent any potential problems.

Can I floss around a bridge the same way as teeth?

No, flossing around a dental bridge is different than flossing between natural teeth, to floss around a dental bridge, you will need to use a special floss threader or interdental brush to thread the floss or brush under the pontic (the prosthetic tooth) and between the bridge and the adjacent teeth. You can also use a water flosser, which is a device that uses a stream of water to clean between teeth and around dental restorations like bridges.

Regular flossing around a dental bridge helps to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the bridge, which can help prevent gum disease and decay. It is also important to maintain good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day and visiting the Dr Oh or Dr Estafan regularly for checkups and cleanings to keep your dental bridge and surrounding teeth healthy and strong.

Can I floss around an implant crown the same way as teeth?

Flossing around an implant crown is similar to flossing between natural teeth. This is a key difference between a single implant and a bridge. Flossing around a single implant crown is very similar to flossing around teeth - whereas floss doesn’t pass through bridges. Cleaning under a bridge involves an interdental brush or floss threader.

What are the main failure modes of dental bridges?

The main failure modes of dental bridges include:       

  • Decementation: Dental bridges rely on cement to hold them in place on the adjacent teeth. If the cement fails, the bridge can become loose or fall out completely.       
  • Fracture or chipping: Dental bridges can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain or ceramic, which can be prone to fracturing or chipping over time. This can compromise the function and aesthetics of the bridge.       
  • Recurrent decay: The natural teeth that support a dental bridge can still be susceptible to decay. If decay develops under the bridge, it can compromise the stability of the bridge and lead to failure.       
  • Wear and tear: Over time, dental bridges can experience wear and tear from normal use, which can lead to failure. This can include wear to the natural teeth that support the bridge, or wear to the bridge itself.       
  • Periodontal disease: If the gums surrounding the natural teeth that support a dental bridge become infected or inflamed due to periodontal disease, it can compromise the stability of the bridge and lead to failure.       
  • Root canal: Teeth supporting dental bridges can sometimes need root canal. If an anchor tooth for a bridge needs a root canal, it is frequently done through the bridge without sacrificing the bridge. Thus it’s not considered catastrophic. Existing teeth with root canal teeth also may need retreatments or the roots can fracture.  Retreatment can also be done through the bridge, but root fracture generally means losing that anchor (having it extracted). If and when a tooth is extracted, sometimes a new bridge can be made that incorporates more teeth, but as bridges get larger and more complex, they are more susceptible to problems. This process can take decades, but it commonly begins with the choice of an implant or bridge.

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the Dr Oh or Dr Estafan for checkups and cleanings to help prevent these failure modes and extend the lifespan of a dental bridge.

What are the main failure modes of dental implants?

The main failure modes of dental implants include:       

  • Implant mobility: If an implant is not properly integrated with the surrounding bone tissue, it can become loose or mobile, leading to implant failure.       
  • Peri-implantitis: Peri-implantitis is a type of gum disease that can occur around dental implants. It is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria around the implant, which can lead to infection and bone loss. If left untreated, peri-implantitis can lead to implant failure.       
  • Bone loss: Dental implants rely on a strong and healthy jawbone to support them. If the jawbone begins to deteriorate or resorb, it can compromise the stability and longevity of the implant.       
  • Overloading: Dental implants can be overloaded if they are subjected to too much pressure or force, such as grinding or clenching of the teeth. This can lead to implant failure.       
  • Screw or abutment fracture: The screw or abutment that holds the implant crown in place can become damaged or fractured over time, leading to implant failure.

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and visit the Dr Oh or Dr Estafan regularly for checkups and cleanings to help prevent these failure modes and ensure the long-term success of a dental implant.

Do implants get decay?

Dental implants themselves cannot get decay, as they are made of materials that are not susceptible to decay, such as titanium or zirconia. This is a major difference between implant crowns and tooth borne bridges - especially for people who are susceptible to decay (people who get cavities frequently). Since dental bridges are susceptible to decay, over time cavity-prone people are likely to need more dentistry over time - dentistry that becomes more complex incorporating root canal, and potentially extractions and more teeth. These procedures are costly in time, money, chairtime and headaches.  Although implants initially may cost more money and have a longer duration of treatment, they can potentially save the patient much more in the long run. When replacing a single tooth, implants should be carefully considered before opting for a bridge. There are definitely some situations in which Dr Estafan or Dr Oh would recommend a bridge over an implant, but more often the implant is the treatment of choice. 

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.